Echoing an overnight report from Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio, ESPN.com's Chad Ford says in his latest mock draft that the Cavaliers remain undecided on their first overall pick. While the team appears likely to keep the pick, a number of players are still being considered, including Nerlens Noel and Alex Len. According to Ford, Noel remains the favorite because he fits the sort of high-upside profile the Cavs typically target, but there are some in the organization who prefer Len.
Here are several more highlights from version 5.0 of Ford's 2013 mock:
- Ford hears that Victor Oladipo has the upper hand over Ben McLemore for the Magic at No. 2, though the team would strongly consider Noel if the Cavs passed on him.
- The Bobcats will likely be deciding between Anthony Bennett and Len at No. 4, if both players are available, but Cody Zeller could be a dark horse, says Ford.
- Teams are worried about McLemore after a series of unimpressive workouts, and it's possible he slips past the Suns at No. 5, according to Ford.
- The Timberwolves appear to have narrowed down their choice at No. 9 to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Shabazz Muhammad.
- The Sixers figure to target size at No. 11, with Zeller, Mason Plumlee, and Lucas Nogueira among the possibilities.
- Assuming the Mavericks don't trade the 13th pick, though it's very likely they will, a player like Sergey Karasev, who could be stashed overseas for a year or two, is a strong possibility, says Ford.
- Karasev also interests the Cavaliers at No. 19, though Cleveland likes Reggie Bullock as a potential consolation prize, according to Ford.
- The Jazz appear to be a good bet to target a big man at No. 14 and a point guard at No. 21.
- Ford continues to hear that the Knicks have a "strong affinity" for Tony Mitchell.
Although one report yesterday suggested that the Cavaliers were leaning toward selecting big man Alex Len with the first overall pick in next week's draft, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio hears that's not the case. Amico reports (via Twitter) that there's still no clear frontrunner for the Cavs' No. 1 pick, which likely means Len remains in the mix along with prospects like Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, and Otto Porter. As we enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing which player will be picked first overall, let's round up a few more of today's draft-related news and rumors....
- If the Celtics end up acquiring the Clippers' 2013 first-round pick (25th overall), Ricky Ledo represents a likely target for Boston, tweets ESPN.com's Chad Ford.
- Like a number of international prospects we heard about yesterday, Norvel Pelle has also withdrawn from the NBA draft, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Pelle, who missed workouts with several NBA teams due to foot issues, remained eligible to withdraw from the draft up until yesterday's deadline, since he didn't attend college.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) hears that Cody Zeller will work out for the Bobcats on Wednesday.
- In an Associated Press report (via ESPN.com), Glen Rice Jr. talks about attempting to become the first player drafted in the first round after playing in the D-League.
Since 2007, the only teams to win the Eastern Conference have been the Celtics, the Magic, and whatever team LeBron James has been on. The Magic probably won't be getting back to the Finals anytime soon, and the core of those Celtics teams could soon disappear. Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may all wind up with the Clippers, removing one of LeBron's most prominent conference rivals. We've got more on the Celtics saga and other news from the East:
- The Hawks hired Darvin Ham as an assistant coach, the team announced, prompting ESPN's Chris Broussard to speculate that the move was done in part to appeal to Dwight Howard (Twitter link). Ham has been an assistant with the Lakers the past two years, and worked with Howard this year. The Bobcats also had interest in Ham, as Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes via Twitter.
- Celtics GM Danny Ainge still believes coach Doc Rivers will return for next season, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, who hears from an agent who figures that Rivers won't coach any team next season.
- The Celtics will have to rebuild sooner or later, Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth argues. Powell says that now appears to best time to do so, and he lays out a plan that involves waiving Pierce, letting Rivers coach the Clippers, and dangling Garnett in trade offers.
- Vladimir Radmanovic didn't see much playing time on his one-year deal with the Bulls this past season, but his agent, Alexander Raskovic, says the 32-year-old still intends to play for an NBA team next season (Twitter link).
- Tyrus Thomas ($8,694,215)
- Ramon Sessions ($5,000,000)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($4,809,840)
- Bismack Biyombo ($3,049,920)
- Kemba Walker ($2,568,360)
- Brendan Haywood ($2,050,000)
- Jeff Taylor ($788,872)
Free Agents / Cap Holds
- DeSagana Diop ($11,058,300)
- Gerald Henderson ($7,753,318)1
- Byron Mullens ($5,632,655)2
- Josh McRoberts ($4,075,500)
- Reggie Williams ($3,396,250)
- No. 4 pick ($3,214,200)
- Guaranteed Salary: $26,961,207
- Options: $13,200,000
- Non-Guaranteed Salary: $916,099
- Cap Holds: $35,130,223
- Total: $76,207,529
Perhaps the two most compelling news items for Bobcats fans may have happened within the past month, as the team announced it will change its name to the Hornets in 2014/15 and hired Patrick Ewing as the lead assistant to new head coach Steve Clifford. Certainly there's been little on the court for Charlotte to get excited about, since the team is a combined 28-120 over the last two seasons. At least the Bobcats couldn't be accused of tanking this year, since they won their final three games of the season to move past the Magic in the standings. Of course, that meant the team was 5.1% less likely to win the No. 1 draft choice and 8.5% less likely to wind up with a top-three pick, and that manifested in the 'Cats slipping to fourth in the draft order.
Charlotte probably won't be missing out on a superstar as a result, given the weakness at the top of this year's field of prospects, but it's clear the draft plays a significant role for the team as it tries to climb out of the dregs of the league. Three of the players with the team's five highest guaranteed salaries for next season are on rookie-scale contracts. Still, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo haven't developed into stars, and neither has Gerald Henderson, the team's lottery pick from 2009 who's up for restricted free agency this summer. As part of a meeting with season ticketholders in March, GM Rich Cho was asked about the weakness of this year's draft and pointed instead to next year's class, which looks much stronger. The Bobcats could have as many as three first-round picks next year, but unless the Bobcats unearth a gem from this year's crop, there will be little reason for optimism based on the team's track record in the draft.
Owner Michael Jordan told that same group of season ticketholders to expect plenty of change this summer, and the team has already hired Clifford to replace Mike Dunlap, who lasted just one season as coach. The Bobcats have the cap flexibility to make the changes Jordan promised, even if Ben Gordon opts into his $13.2MM salary for next season, which seems inevitable. The team could amnesty Tyrus Thomas, who has two years and $18,082,645 left on his contract, to create more cap room. Given the seven-year veteran's career-worst 4.8 points per game and .353 field goal percentage this year, I wouldn't expect Thomas back with Charlotte next season.
Amnestying Thomas would give the team enough cap room to pursue a marquee free agent like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, but neither of them will likely spend a minute thinking about the Bobcats this summer, even though Paul is a North Carolina native. Last year's offseason, in which Ramon Sessions was the team's most noteworthy free agent signing, signaled how difficult it will be for the Bobcats to attract even the most pedestrian of players. The Bobcats used a less conventional means of acquiring talent last summer when they claimed Brendan Haywood off amnesty waivers from the Mavericks, and if another worthy target gets amnestied this summer, I wouldn't be surprised to see Charlotte make another claim. Picking players off the scrapheap isn't exactly the most effective method of rebuilding, however.
I expect Cho and president of basketball operations Rod Higgins to pursue trades this summer. The 'Cats don't have many attractive assets on the playing roster, but they have a wealth of draft picks, and they could use their cap space to absorb an overpaid player from another team. That doesn't make them unique, though, as other clubs could put together packages that are just as attractive, if not more so. There's been speculation that the Bobcats could pursue a Chris Bosh trade, but I don't think the Heat will be ready to unload a core piece of their championship team for cap space and draft picks until it's proven that their title-winning opportunities are behind them. Bosh can opt out of his deal after next season anyway, so I sincerely doubt the Bobcats would mortgage the future to bring on a player who might be gone after just one season.
The Bobcats would be better served by setting their sights on someone signed to a long-term deal, though that may once more necessitate taking on less-than-marquee talent. It's difficult to build a team from the bottom up in a small market, but Michael Jordan's ownership is an ace in the hole. If the club becomes a consistent playoff team that's a player or two away from title contention, the specter of playing for Jordan might just be enough to lure a superstar who dreams of lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy with His Airness. Still, that's a strategy based on assumptions and what-ifs, and the fact that Jordan oversaw the rapid dismantling of the franchise's only playoff team suggests the owner isn't banking on merely appearing in the postseason.
The Bobcats are reportedly talking to the Bucks about the 15th overall pick, though it's unclear whether that means Charlotte is willing to give up the No. 4 pick or simply wants to acquire an additional first-round selection. In any case, the draft will continue to figure in the team's plans, and the Bobcats will have to start making more hits than misses. Higgins and Cho could try to be patient, eschew drastic moves, and hope for better lottery luck leading up to next year's highly touted draft class. I don't think that would be in keeping with Jordan's promise of change to the team's season ticketholders, but there doesn't appear to be a quick fix available.
- Henderson was the team's second-leading scorer this past season, and though he's not a breakout star, the Bobcats may be inclined to match any reasonable offer he sees in restricted free agency. I don't expect him to warrant an annual salary for much more than his approximately $4.5MM qualifying offer, but I could see him winding up with a three- or four-year offer equivalent to the value of the full mid-level exception, with a starting salary of $5.15MM. If so, the Bobcats would probably match.
- Players accepting their qualifying offers used to be a rare occurence, but it's happened with more frequency the last couple of years, and that may be the route Byron Mullens takes. Unlike Henderson, I don't think Mullens could do any better than $4.5MM. He was a rotation regular despite his paltry 31.7% three-point shooting on 3.9 attempts per game this season, and the Bobcats may be willing to slightly overpay the 24-year-old big man to see if he can show more progress next season. That could lead both sides into the low-risk one-year agreement.
- Josh McRoberts, who saw more playing time in his partial season with Charlotte than at any other point in his six-year NBA career, could be another player the Bobcats bring back at an above-market price. He just finished a two-year, $6.135MM deal, and a similar arrangement might be enough to bring him back, perhaps with a team option for 2014/15. Re-signing Mullens and McRoberts to deals the team can get out of after just one year would allow Charlotte to maintain flexibility for next summer's more fertile free agent class.
- The qualifying offer for Henderson is $4,531,459, which is less than 250% of his salary in 2012/13. The cap hold for a former first-rounder who made less than the league average salary in the fourth season of his rookie-scale contract is always the greater of those two amounts in the summer after his rookie deal expires. Thus, Henderson's cap hold is greater than his qualifying offer, even though his qualifying offer received a slight bump because he met the starter criteria this season.
- The same is true for Mullens, the 24th pick in the 2009 draft. Mullens, who was originally in line for a qualifying offer of $3,293,976, nearly failed to meet the starter criteria. He was removed from the starting lineup late in the season after having made 40 starts, one shy of the minimum, but wound up making one more start, on March 24th against the Heat. Thus, his QO is $4,531,459, identical to Henderson's.
Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.
On the heels of a pair of unsurprising option decisions - Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams will return to the Warriors and Jazz, respectively - we received word that Andre Iguodala will opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Iguodala's decision isn't a huge surprise either, but it certainly makes this year's class of free agents even more interesting.
In addition to the Nuggets, Wojnarowski listed six other teams expected to pursue Iguodala, while Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the Warriors are interested in well. Golden State would have a much tougher path to landing Iggy than teams with cap space, but a sign-and-trade is within the realm of possibility.
Here are a few more Friday odds and ends from around the NBA:
- An Eastern Conference executive tells Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio (Twitter link) that the Cavaliers and Bobcats have both been "ultra-aggressive" in seeking out trades.
- We heard yesterday that the Nuggets hoped to bring Brian Shaw in for an interview next week, but according to a tweet from Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, it sounds like Denver was able to schedule a meeting with Shaw for today. Lionel Hollins' interview is still set for tomorrow, as planned.
- Discussing his team's upcoming offseason, Pistons GM Joe Dumars says many teams facing possible tax penalties next season are already making trade calls in an effort to reduce or avoid a tax bill (link via David Mayo of MLive.com).
- Agent Tony Dutt tells Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times that his client, Jordan Farmar, wants to return to the NBA "for sure." Farmar signed a three-year contract in Turkey last summer, but has the chance to opt out of the deal after each season.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton follows up on the story that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are interested in playing together by ranking a handful of possible destinations from least likely (Lakers) to most likely (Hawks).
Earlier this afternoon, I asked for your thoughts on which prospect would be drafted first overall two weeks from tonight. While I provided five names in the poll, it appears I omitted one more viable option, as Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio reports that Anthony Bennett is also under consideration for the Cavaliers at No. 1 overall. While several opposing GMs tell Amico that they don't believe Cleveland would draft Bennett (or Alex Len) first overall, the Cavs aren't tipping their hand, so plenty of options still remain in play. Here's more from Amico's latest collection of NBA news and notes:
- One source says that the Cavs have been working on "something major," but no details were given due to the magnitude. While that may not reveal much, Amico relays from the same source that Cleveland has talked to one particular team several times about the number one pick, although discussions have only been exploratory at this point (Twitter links).
- Amico also tweets that the Cavaliers are lukewarm at the idea of taking Victor Oladipo or Anthony Bennett with their first overall pick and are going back and forth between Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore.
- The Sixers are high on Michael Carter-Williams, who they believe could contribute at both guard positions, according to Amico. With Carter-Williams drawing some interest from teams in the top 10, it remains to be seen whether he'll be available for the Sixers at No. 11.
- While the Magic have explored trades involving the second overall pick, they're "far from desperate" to move it.
- Depending on how their pursuit of Dwight Howard goes, the Rockets may be interested in making a bid for trade candidate Danny Granger.
- The Bucks and Bobcats have engaged in discussions involving Milwaukee's 15th overall pick, says Amico.
- If DeMarcus Cousins was available at one point, he isn't any longer. New Kings coach Michael Malone is excited about working with the young big man.
As June 27th inches closer, here are today's draft-related items:
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer relays a report (via the News Herald) which confirms that Anthony Bennett will visit the Cavaliers on Monday. The 6'8 forward will not work out for the club, as he is still recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
- The Timberwolves are expected to host Shabazz Muhammad and Archie Goodwin for workouts on Sunday, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
- With the deadline for international prospects to withdraw from the draft coming on Monday, Mouhammadou Jaiteh is considering pulling his name out, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. Kennedy says a decision is expected to come by Saturday for Jaiteh, who will only stay in if he'll be a first-round pick.
- Kennedy adds within the same piece that the 76ers are one of several teams looking to acquire a pick late in the first round.
- ESPN.com's David Thorpe (Insider link) believes Anthony Bennett would be an ideal fit for the Bobcats.
- Although his stock has taken a hit lately, Shabazz Muhammad still has a chance to be drafted in the top 10, tweets Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
- The Pelicans will get their workouts underway on Friday, and Michael Carter-Williams is expected to be in attendance, tweets John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
- Chris Babb, Tim Hardaway Jr., Solomon Hill, Tony Mitchell, Andrew Smith, and Axel
Toupane will work out for the Pacers on Friday, the team announced today.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel tweets that Ben McLemore is working out for the Magic, who have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
- The Lakers worked out the following prospects today, according to the team's official Twitter account: Kenny Kadji, Peyton Siva, Brandon Triche, Dewaye Dedmon, C.J. Harris, and B.J. Young.
- The Wizards announced their Friday workout participants, while the Bucks (Twitter link) announced the players who worked out for them today. Both groups consist primarily of second-round prospects, with the exception of Otto Porter in Washington.
Chad Ford's latest big board at ESPN.com sees Alex Len leap into the top five after being ranked at ninth in Ford's previous update. According to Ford, of the two injured big men near the top of draft boards, Len is viewed as being more polished offensively and having more upside than Nerlens Noel. Len is in the discussion for the Cavaliers' No. 1 pick, and is also drawing serious interest from the Bobcats, Suns, and Pelicans, says Ford. Here's more from the ESPN.com draft expert:
- Victor Oladipo has moved into the Cavs' conversation for first overall, along with Noel, Len, and Otto Porter, according to Ford.
- Porter will work out for the Cavs, Magic, and Wizards in the coming days, and that's it. It seems he's confident he won't slip out of the top three -- if he does, there's "no way" he gets past the Pelicans at No. 6, says Ford.
- Virtually every team near the top of the draft is still considering Ben McLemore, but during a workout with the Suns, he declined to compete against Oladipo and Shabazz Muhammad, which didn't sit well with some evaluators. "He needs to compete," said a GM whose team has a lottery pick. "Or it's only
going to reinforce our biggest fears about him. There is no consensus
in this draft. He's got to come and earn it."
- The Kings may prefer Michael Carter-Williams to Trey Burke, if they draft a point guard.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a "terrific" workout with the Timberwolves, and could be the team's sleeper at No. 9 overall, says Ford.
- Dennis Schroeder's stock may have been negatively affected by his workouts. "He looked frustrated," said a scout for one team that worked out Schroeder. "His body language wasn't great. He's a very good talent and I
wouldn't read too much into the workout, but it didn't really help him."
- The Knicks are "especially high" on Tony Mitchell, according to Ford.
As I suggested last week when a report surfaced that Dario Saric was withdrawing from the 2013 draft, it sounds like he and his representatives have yet to make the decision official. Still, all signs are pointing to Saric pulling out of this year's class, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. The Croatian forward has until next Monday at 4:00pm central time to make a formal decision.
Here are a few more of the latest draft-related updates:
- ESPN.com's Chad Ford believes there's a good chance Saric would go in the top 10 if he remained in the draft, adding that scouts familiar with Europe don't think there's a huge difference between Saric and Otto Porter.
- Speaking of Porter, Ford says he remains a possibility for the Cavaliers at No. 1, since Cleveland is still a couple weeks away from making up its mind.
- Could Nerlens Noel be available for the Bobcats when they pick fourth overall? One player-personnel executive connected to a lottery team thinks so, telling Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that he believes the first three picks in the draft will be, in some order, Anthony Bennett, Ben McLemore, and Porter.
- Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Rice Jr., and Phil Pressey, three sons of former NBA players, will work out for the Knicks today, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
- Lucas Nogueira tells Brett Pollakoff of NBCSports.com that he's flexible about the possibility of returning to Europe if the NBA team that drafts him thinks he needs more time overseas to develop.
- Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passes along a report indicating that Janis Timma will be heading stateside to work out for several NBA teams in hopes of securing a spot in the draft. Like Saric, Timma has until June 17th to decide whether to remain in the draft or withdraw his name.
Last month, we heard that Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan wouldn't be
returning to Team USA for the 2016 Olympics as assistant coaches. Today, Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press reveals (via Twitter) that Bulls
coach Tom Thibodeau and Pelicans coach Monty Williams will be the new
additions to Mike Krzyzewski's staff. Here are a few more Monday odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Timberwolves president Flip Saunders tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com
that every indication points to Rick Adelman returning as the team's
head coach next season. Saunders also addresses Nikola Pekovic's free
agency ("We plan on signing him") and Andrei Kirilenko's player option
("We don't have a gut feel [what he'll decide]") within the piece.
- Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has yet to officially state whether he'll return to Boston's bench next season, telling Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he'd address his future soon.
- In his weekend notes column for the Boston Globe, Washburn speculated that the Bobcats could be interested in trying to trade for Chris Bosh this summer, but Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer doesn't see Bosh as a fit for Charlotte.
- Asked about a potential Luol Deng trade, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tweets that he has heard the Bulls
don't intend to change their core significantly this summer. With Deng
and others coming off the books in the summer of 2014, the roster
figures to see more turnover a year from now.
- CSKA Moscow assistant Quin Snyder has officially left the team to return stateside, the club announced today (English link via Sportando). Last week, ESPN.com's Marc Stein named Snyder as a potential under-the-radar candidate for the Nuggets' head coaching job, but I think it's probably more likely that Snyder ends up as an NBA assistant somewhere.
- Last June, Mike Miller's injury problems had him contemplating the possibility of retirement, but he's certainly feeling better a year later. Miller tells Shams Charania of RealGM.com that he feels like he has four or five seasons left in him.
- Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today attempts to determine why there have been so many head coaching changes in the NBA this offseason, while TNT's David Aldridge tackles the same topic in his own column at NBA.com. Aldridge also examines new Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and asks Danny Granger about being the subject of frequent trade rumors.